Is there an irreconcilable disparity between authentic Christian faith and hard-boiled political realism? Common sense seems to require an unequivocal “yes”—one is so different from the other as to preclude any coherent combination of them. Yet we can find such a combination, or a significant approximation of it, in the philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr. And that is what makes him an intriguing thinker and commentator on public affairs. Much of Niebuhr’s extensive writing, newly collected by the Library of America, is focused upon the role and limits of morality in politics, especially international politics. He is critical of “realists” who would…
This week brought the stunning news that Russia has deployed technology that records every phone call made in the United States, keeps it for 30 days, and retrieves segments for listening and long-term storage.
Not really. But the United States has done precisely this to telephone users in an unknown target country. Leaked documents indicate “every single” call there was recorded—not merely metadata that tracks numbers called, but the actual content of conversations.
Consider that inversion a political Rorschach test. There is a breed of American elite whose mood, upon reaching the end of the second paragraph, would instantly melt from outrage to relief. That breed lacks the political virtue par excellence—prudence—and it is getting us into trouble.